The Washington Post

Rep. Mike Rogers: U.S. should be ‘coach’ not ‘sheriff’ in Syria

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) called Sunday for the Obama administration to lead its allies' efforts in Syria, but urged against the deployment of any U.S. troops to the country.

"Our Arab League partners are already in Syria and trying to provide help to the opposition," Rogers said on CBS News's "Face The Nation." "I argue with U.S. leadership -- and again this is not boots on the ground -- U.S. leadership through intelligence and training and other things ... could be hugely helpful."

He added: "We really don't want to be the sheriff, but we do want to be the coach."

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, urged that action only be taken in consultation with partners.

"We can't be the sheriff to the whole world," Ruppersberger said. "We have our own issues right now -- Iraq, Afghanistan, we have sequestration, those type of issues. So, when we make the move to get in, we have to do it with a coalition."

Some lawmakers have called for the Obama administration to provide weapons to the rebel forces who oppose the Syrian government. Ruppersberger said both sides of the conflict already have a lot of weapons and the focus should be on coordinating the use of them.

"This issue about weapons -- there are plenty of weapons in Syria right now on both sides. It's a matter of coordinating those weapons and making sure they are used in the right way," he said.

The comments came as reports surfaced that Israeli war planes bombed the outskirts of the Syrian capital for the second time Sunday morning. Rogers described a rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, and said it is clear that chemical weapons have been used in the conflict, a threshold President Obama has referred to as a "red line."

"We've been saying for some time now, we believe over the course of two years, small amounts of chemical weapons have been used," Rogers said. "I think that's beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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